Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen
Emmett Atwater, a sixteen-year-old African American from Detroit, has spent the last year on board a spaceship owned by Babel Communications, lured in ― along with nineteen other disadvantaged teenagers from across the globe ― by Babel’s offer of immense wealth if he will travel to Eden and mine as much of the priceless mineral nyxia as possible on behalf of Babel for a year or so. Then he and the others can return home to a life of permanent ease. **Recapping Book 1 in the rest of this paragraph at a high level, for background; I’ve tried to avoid major spoilers** But Emmett and the other teenagers soon learn that the executives of Babel care only for their own power and wealth. During the year-long flight of the Genesis to Eden, the teens were pitted against each other in desperate competition for a place with the final group that would actually land on Eden. Manipulated by Babel, the competition became more and more ugly and deadly, until a final terrible twist just before the final group was dispatched to Eden in individual landing pods.
Nyxia Unleashed (2018), the second book in Scott Reintgen’s NYXIA TRIAD series, picks up right where Nyxia left off, with Emmett soaring through the atmosphere of Eden and landing alone at night on an unfamiliar planet with two moons, and with no one else anywhere in sight. Emmett eventually is able to connect with a few of the other teens, and they make their cautious way cross-country to a supply center, where they meet up with the other teens from their spaceship, as well as a young corporal who’s been left in charge of Babel’s supply center (one of the Adamites’ demands is that the only humans allowed to stay on their planet must be children or teens). And they meet some representatives of the Adamites, who greet them with slightly unnerving good cheer. Soon the Genesis teens discover that, like Babel, the Adamites ― who actually call themselves the Imago ― have not been entirely forthcoming about their motives and plans.
I’ve always understood Babel’s reasons. More money, more nyxia, more power. That makes all the sense in the world, but I never thought about what the Adamites got out of the deal. It always seemed like we were an entertaining sideshow. A permission granted to Babel so the Adamites could witness a miracle they’ve lost. For the first time, it feels like more than that. Thesis and the others are looking at us like we’ve come to save them. I file it away under D for Dig Deeper.
The teens haven’t trusted Babel for many months, but are the Imago going to be any better? And how will the teens ever be able to get back home to Earth?
Nyxia Unleashed shifts away from the life-and-death game competition that marked Nyxia, which I think was a wise move by Reintgen. The focus shifts now to the Genesis teens’ efforts to learn to trust each other again after the many months of often bitter and deadly competition on board Babel’s spaceship while it was flying to Eden (called “Magnia” by the Imago), and to their exploration of Magnia and the Imago people and their culture.
Nyxia Unleashed is an interesting, solid follow-up to Nyxia, with some unexpected twists to spice up the plot. Each faction has hidden plans that shed new light on the entire book. The planet Magnia and its natives have some creative aspects to them, though they could have been much more fundamentally alien for my money. The Imago are described more like an unusual country of humans than a world of non-human aliens, with much that is familiar about their culture and society. Conveniently, humans and Imago are able to not only talk to each other (thanks to one of nyxia’s odd properties) but also breathe the same atmosphere and eat the same foods. But I doubt the intended YA audience will mind that, and it does act as a mirror for how we as a human society often behave.
I’ve grown quite attached to the main character and narrator, Emmett, who tries to balance his justifiably vengeful thoughts against Babel and its executives with the desire, instilled by his loving family, to be a good person and find a better way. The racially, religiously, and sexually diverse group of teens that form the Genesis group can’t all be distinct and three-dimensional personalities, but enough of them are that their interactions and relationships feel realistic. There’s a clever but poignant moment where one of the teens uses an ancient, rather obscure Biblical story as inspiration for an unexpected change in direction.
Nyxia Unleashed has a bit of a cliffhanger ending, but not enough to put me off in any way. I’m definitely on board for the third book, Nyxia Uprising, slated for publication in April 2019.
The recap was reminding me of the Pierce Brown’s RED RISING series, so I’m glad to see there’s an added dimension to this one. I like the idea of the young people interacting with the natives.
And I’m going to have to go look at that cover in real life. It’s intriguing.
Yes, I can understand the attraction and temptation of continuing with the game competition concept in the sequel, but I think it was very wise to shift away from that, and he still ended up with a good story … and a great ending!